In part 3, Paul Calvert spoke with Kalman Samuels about the incredible sports facilities and programmes they have, currently benefiting thousands of disabled young people in Israel.

Continued from page 1

Paul: You are an Orthodox Jew. Is it just for Orthodox Jews, or do you have inter-denominational people coming?

Shalva Center
Shalva Center

Kalman: I happen to be an Orthodox Jew, but this place was set up with a creed, with a vision that nobody will ever be turned away. You have money and you can help us that is wonderful; you don't have, that is also wonderful. First come first served.

The second was we do not care who you are, we care about one thing, and can we help you? If we can help you, this is totally non-denominational.

It's in Hebrew, so yes a lot of the Israelis are Jewish, but that is not why they were accepted. We have some Arabs and some of them are Christian and some of them are Muslim. This is open to anyone who needs our services.

Paul: And that is bringing people together isn't it?

Kalman: It's breaking down barriers in the most amazing way and it works on all sides. It works on the Jewish side, with staff and children interacting with people who are not Jewish, who are Arab Christian, or Muslim. It also works on the other side as well, when you have a child that comes from an Arab community that is completely Arabic, the child doesn't speak Hebrew and the parents come in their full dress, and they are received royally. That impacts! When you go back to their community and they hear somebody saying one thing or the other, they are not going to be able to stand idly by, they are going to say, "Not everyone is like that," and similarly on the other side.

In the synagogue
In the synagogue

I think what damages our societies is of course stereotypes, and that is what prejudice is all about. That a person who looks like this is like this, and as we know, nothing could be further from the truth.

Paul: When you come into the building you see artwork of great butterflies, and throughout the building you see butterflies. What is the significance of the butterfly here?

Kalman: The butterfly is an interesting story. The entire building was designed externally and internally by wonderful professionals, great architects, but it was my wife whose touch is in every detail of this building.

She put in a 25 foot atrium, a very beautiful mobile coming down, I believe 10 metres, and designed and built by a very important Israel artist by the name of David Gerstein. Butterflies became the motif.

Providing The Environment And Skills To Enable Disabled Young
People To Fly

The reason for that is as Malki said, "A butterfly starts life in a cocoon. The butterfly has to work its way out. You cannot help that butterfly work its way out. If you try and help to open it up you are going to kill it. The butterfly via its efforts to get out, somehow miraculously, with God's wonders, learns how to fly. Our children are the same situation." They start life early on with severe challenges. We can't do the work for them. We can provide the environment and skills, we can encourage them to work hard and fly to the best of their ability. That is the background of the butterfly.

Paul: You also run summer camps. Tell us about the summer camps.

Kalman: Summer camps run in July and August. Schools are either out, in the case of kids with disabilities July is usually a fuller month, but we have day camps all through July and August.

We have an eight day sleep away camp in August designed for families to be able to put their feet up and get away and get a break. It's not just the father and mother, it's the children, the siblings who are always helpers and always under stress to make sure everything is done correctly.

We have 300 such campers every summer and it is a major operation.